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Estonian PM secretly ready to move Bronze Soldier - committee - 1

(adds Russian MP reaction in last two paragraphs)

TALLINN, April 18 (RIA Novosti) - Estonia's prime minister is secretly preparing to dismantle a Soviet monument because the idea does not have enough public and government support, the secretary of the Baltic country's Anti-Fascist Committee said Wednesday.

Estonia's commission on wartime burials recommended March 13 removing the World War II Bronze Soldier statue, which is part of a Soviet-era memorial, from central Tallinn to a "quieter" military cemetery, in accordance with a new law passed in January.

"Open discussion of the issue showed that [Andrus] Ansip's idea to dismantle the Bronze Soldier has not found unanimous support among the public. Besides, new members have entered government, who ... do not want the start of their political career linked with the dismantling of the monument," Andrei Zarenkov, who is also the chairman of Estonia's Constitutional Party, said.

A government security commission Tuesday discussed behind closed doors issues related to the removal of the monument and reburial of Soviet warriors' remains, but information was not made public.

"Ansip promised to dismantle the monument and has no way back now. That's why, without public support for his idea, he is prepared for a forceful resolution in secret from the public," the secretary said.

The six-foot Bronze Soldier and other Soviet memorials have recently become rallying points for ethnic Russians, and following clashes with Estonian nationalists near the statues prompted the authorities to press for monuments "dividing society" to be removed.

Russia has accused Estonia of encouraging Nazism and discrimination against ethnic Russians, and even prompted debate on possible energy sanctions against Estonia. Moscow has also called for international organizations to step in.

Some 50,000 Soviet troops perished in Estonia in 1944 fighting against Nazi Germany. The Soviets regained control of the republic, which many Estonians call occupation. The bodies of the soldiers killed in action are buried at 450 cemeteries and memorials across the Baltic country.

The head of Russia's delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe said Wednesday that Tallinn's decision to classify information about the Bronze Soldier's future means that Estonia is aware that the situation involving the monument is a disgrace for Europe.

"Estonian authorities must have begun to realize the obvious, that their actions regarding the monument are a disgrace for modern Europe," Konstantin Kosachev told RIA Novosti.

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